Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani
When I was thinking about the presidential race last year, the conclusion I reached was that on the Democratic side, the contest would come down to Hillary Clinton and one other candidate, whom I referred to as "Not-Hillary." I figured that if "Not-Hillary" could make his appearance early enough, he'd have a small but real shot at defeating the then-overwhelming favorite. And I knew, from watching Hillary Clinton in the Senate representing New York since I somewhat reluctantly voted for her in 2000--watching with growing dismay as she showed arrogance, imperiousness and a near-total want of principle--that I'd be 100 percent behind Not-Hillary.
But there was one scenario in which, I said (and meant), not only would I vote for a Clinton Restoration, but I'd volunteer, donate, and do anything else I could to boost her prospects of victory. That was if she matched up for the presidency against the former mayor of New York City. Rudy Giuliani. Rudy combined the hackery, belligerence and total inability to own up to mistakes of George W. Bush with the personal vindictiveness and paranoia of Richard Nixon--and, unlike Bush (but like Nixon), he was of sufficient intelligence and managerial acumen to be a "successful" president. The Bush/Rove approach to government was Stalinism as carried out by the Keystone Kops--absolute blind loyalty undermined by thoroughgoing incompetence, exemplified by Michael Brown at FEMA and Alberto Gonzales as Attorney General. Giuliani would take the same approach, but he might be able to make it work.
So even Hillary Clinton would be vastly preferable to that. I thought.
Were the choice somehow to come up today between Giuliani and Clinton, I'm not sure how I'd vote. Probably I'd just drink myself into a near-coma, and/or emerge from that stupor to vote for Bob Barr. (And by "probably," I mean "definitely.")
In the course of this campaign, Hillary Clinton has shown herself to be every bit the monster that Giuliani is--and not half the manager. (Considering how badly Il Douche ran his own campaign, that's really saying something.) The same Rudy-esque blend of blind loyalty and straight-up meanness has manifested again and again. The tonal mood swings--from "I'm proud to be on stage with Barack Obama" to "shame on you, Barack Obama" in 36 hours--offered an early hint that this was not someone temperamentally suited for the presidency. We saw the brazen lying about her trip to Bosnia, the shameless jumping on "gaffes" in April, the comment that Obama was not a Muslim "as far as I know," the proud pandering on the "gas tax holiday," the ever-shifting criteria for what is and isn't "important" in the nominating contest, the ugly appeals to "hard-working white voters"--and finally, on Friday, a comment about assassination and primary politics that, at best, was incredibly thoughtless and tasteless, and at worst was a glimpse into a mind and soul as twisted even as Nixon's or Giuliani's.
There has been nothing remotely honorable or admirable about how the Clintons have conducted this campaign. But it has answered a few questions that lingered from the 1990s--perhaps foremost among them why Hillary Clinton had stayed with her husband after his biggest and most humiliating "bimbo eruption" was exposed in 1998. Just as Bill Clinton was shameless, dishonest, utterly averse to taking responsibility for his mistakes and forever a victim in his own mind, so too is his wife. And we can't afford that, at all, in this much more challenging time--any more than we could Rudy Giuliani's dysfunction.